Provo • While businesses are closing down in the United States and more and more people are staying home as preventive measures to try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, viral videos have been emerging from Italy, where the entire country is on a total and dramatic lockdown.
Italians are putting on balcony concerts and rooftop workouts in solidarity to keep their spirits up, but for two members of the BYU men's volleyball team, the videos circulating are more than just a retweet or like.
Sophomore outside hitter Davide Gardini and volunteer assistant coach Giuseppe Vinci are both from Italy and have had to see their home country get hit by the virus from afar. And now that BYU has moved classes online for the remainder of the term, students are being encouraged to move back to their permanent homes.
Except Gardini can't.
His mother and sister came to Provo for the USC and Stanford home games the last week of March. Luckily for Gardini’s family members, they were able to get back home in time, before the country was placed on a full lockdown last week.
Last Thursday, BYU announced all athletic events would be suspended, effective immediately.
Suddenly, Gardini was stuck.
“Davide is staying upbeat even as this is impacting his family more and more with the government shutdowns and the curfews,” coach Shawn Olmstead said. “He's kept a good attitude about it. He's praying and hoping for the best and making sure he's in good close contact with his family, which he is. And daily, with his mom and dad and kind of going from there.”
Things got a little more complicated with Vinci.
His mother flew into Utah to a couple of months ago to help Vinci and his wife out with their newborn and was set to fly back recently, but the national lockdown made that impossible.
Things became more dire when Vinci's mother realized her tourist visa was expiring.
The pair ended up taking a flight to Cabo San Lucas last Thursday to get out of the country. Then, three hours later, flew back into the U.S. to take a crack at immigration. They explained their situation and why Vinci's mother couldn't go back and worked on getting her another tourist visa until she is able to head back home to Italy.
“So, we kind of have a couple of connections to Italy in that way,” Olmstead said.
While Vinci's situation got a little dire, Olmstead said he is making sure to keep tabs on Gardini while everything continues to play out.
“It’s been a little more closer to home for us because Davide is one of our guys,” Olmstead said. “We’re watching out for him and so we’ve got to keep a good pulse on him and his family. And how he’s processing everything. He’s a perfect example of someone who wanted to go home because schools said [he could], but he obviously can’t. So, we’re just trying to keep a good, close eye on him and just make sure he’s in a good place.”